Living in poverty

There are some people who think the greatest threat to children’s welfare is living in poverty. I have to disagree. I was born in 1935 when America was in the middle of a great depression and jobs were very hard to find. There were many children living in poverty, and parents would deprive themselves for the welfare of the children.

Parents did not need money to give their children love and affection and to teach personal responsibilities along with the “Golden Rule.”

There are two other threats to the welfare of children, other than living in poverty. The first being sexual abuse and the second being self-centered parents — parents who think adultery and broken homes filled with hate and anger is OK.

Joseph Riitano Sr.


Wars, diplomas

As a veteran who served during the Gulf War, I am pleased that Rep. Archie Verow, D-Brewer, co-sponsored a bill in Augusta earlier this year that provides honorary diplomas to all veterans who did not finish high school. Previously, honorary diplomas were only awarded to veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Since Oct. 9, anyone who honorably served in the Armed Forces during peacetime or in the war since Vietnam can receive an honorary diploma.

The new law will especially benefit veterans who returned from Iraq or Afghanistan in recent years. Most jobs require at least a high school diploma, and it’s necessary for getting into a community college or university. One develops valuable skills from serving in the military that are useful for civilian jobs, and they ought to be recognized.

In order to receive an honorary diploma, a veteran must have received an honorable discharge from the Armed Forces. Veterans can apply to the high school in their area for an honorary diploma. This law also allows family members to apply for honorary degrees for their veterans posthumously.

This is a great new law that will help veterans further their careers and give them the recognition they deserve.

Kevin O’ Connell


Jenga country

The welfare state is a prominent issue in the politics of our country. The controversy involves the extent to which welfare should be applied or whether to even have it. I see some fundamental problems with the application of the welfare state. It is a huge waste of tax dollars: In fiscal year 2012, 55 percent of the country’s $3.5 trillion budget ($1.1 trillion of which is the deficit) was spent on programs considered welfare.

It begs the question of whether or not this money could be spent on more productive areas. This money could go to future-building programs such as infrastructure and education. This money is going to people who may have no incentive to better themselves. If they keep receiving money for doing nothing, they have no incentive to make the change to better themselves and the nation.

This has created a deficit of the benefits our country pays out and the funds it receives from taxpayers. This problem arose when the baby boomers retired and the working class didn’t have enough tax money to support these promised contributions. As a result, the country is continually running a deficit with no other opportunity but to honor these contributions. The country is like the game Jenga. If you take too much from the bottom it will collapse, but if you add too much to the top it will collapse, too.

Cody Watson


Humane or inhumane

Those who oppose a Maine bear hunting reform, including Gov. Paul LePage, feel that inhumane trapping, hounding and baiting bears is OK because the Maine fish and game biologists say so. They advise us our thick forests demand inhumane bear hunting. Facts show that some of the most successful bear management techniques happen in Oregon and Washington — not Maine. All three states are among the top lumber-producing states. All have thick forests. Washington and Oregon haven’t allowed baiting, trapping and hounding for many years. Yet, they have more hunters and higher revenues from sport bear hunting than Maine. Their bear populations are stable.

Maine’s is up. Our state biologists don’t need to get their Ph.D. in a twist by asking for help from these two more successful, savvy states. An easy fix. They should do it. David Trahan, director of the Maine Sportsman’s Alliance, in The Lincoln County News last week, suggested that The Humane Society of the United States has unscrupulous motives for supporting the end of inhumane hunting of bears in Maine. The Humane Society.

Are you laughing as hard as I am? Trahan added another argument. If inhumane hunting was stopped, bears would practically be busting in our front doors: “What HSUS is proposing is dangerous to property, pets, domesticated animals, wildlife and Mainers.” Another absurd knee slapper. All these arguments against Maine bear hunting reform insult our intelligence.

The issue is simple: Do you want inhumane hunting or humane hunting? Period.

Maxine Snow


‘Buffer zones’

On Nov. 18, the Portland City Council voted to create a 39-foot free speech “buffer zone” around Planned Parenthood to prevent protesters from standing outside the door. As a patient, I have entered Planned Parenthood with my heart stuck in my throat as I passed by protestors with bloody signs. However, I have two questions about creating “buffer zones” in our city. Can this ordinance prevent me from exercising my First Amendment right to hold up a sign saying, “I support Planned Parenthood,” next to the door, or is this ordinance only for “offensive speech”?

My second question: Can other nonprofits, organizations or corporations in Portland now seek protester boundaries or “free speech zones”? During the height of the Occupy movement, protesters in Portland stood outside Merrill Lynch and Bank of America to call attention to the billions syphoned out of the world’s economies during the 2008 recession.

Buffer zones could be used by banks to keep protestors 39-feet away from their doors. This year, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge on the constitutionality of buffer zones around abortion clinics when it takes up McCullen v. Coakley.

Holly Seeliger